Tap-In Question: If you could pick any former O to pitch World Series Game 7, who would it be? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Tap-In Question: If you could pick any former O to pitch World Series Game 7, who would it be?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Tonight should be an amazing display of pitching in Game 1 of the World Series. We’ll have it showing on the big screen here at the Tap Room (and you can watch leisurely, O’s fans, now that the New York Yankees are home, too).

Three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers faces one-time AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros.

As good as Keuchel is, the advantage goes to Kershaw. It would go to Kershaw even if he were facing Justin Verlander, who will be the Astros’ Game 2 starter.

Frankly, I’d give the advantage to Kershaw in a matchup against any other pitcher in the majors right now. In my opinion, he’s the best. And it doesn’t bother me that he hasn’t pitched in a World Series yet or that he has a 4.40 ERA in 21 postseason games (17 starts).

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He’s my call if I had to give the ball to any current hurler to start the final game – or first game, I suppose – of the World Series.

But that got me thinking: If I had to give the ball to any former Oriole in franchise history to pitch the deciding game of a World Series, who would it be?

The obvious answer is Jim Palmer, the Hall of Famer who won a franchise-best 268 regular season games for the Orioles in his splendid career and also picked up a World Series victory for the club in three different decades (1966, 1970, 1971, 1983).

Palmer pitched in nine World Series games for the Orioles, started eight of them, and had a cumulative 3.20 ERA on the game’s biggest stage. In the postseason, Cakes was 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 17 games (15 starts); by far the most playoff wins as an Oriole.

His former teammate, Boog Powell, once told me that if there were a big game that needed to be pitched, Palmer was his guy, without a doubt.

But is it completely without a doubt?

Is it a slam dunk in your mind that you would give the Game 7 baseball for the Orioles to Palmer ahead of anyone else in franchise history?

There are some tremendous choices if the only requirement is they had to pitch at least one game for the modern-day (since 1954) Orioles.

Strangely, Palmer never actually pitched the deciding contest of a World Series, but that was happenstance, not design. He started Game 2 in 1966 against Sandy Koufax, Game 3 in 1969, Games 1 and 4 (which would have been the clincher, but Eddie Watt blew the lead in the eighth) in 1970, Games 2 and 6 (another potential clincher in which he pitched great) in 1971 and Games 2 and 6 (a third potential clincher the Orioles didn’t win despite Palmer’s solid performance) in 1979.

The Orioles have had three World Series clinchers end up in their favor – and all three were complete-games thrown by left-handers: Dave McNally in 1966, Mike Cuellar in 1970 and Scott McGregor in 1983.

McGregor certainly should get some consideration for taking the ball with the Orioles’ franchise game on the line. He had a 1.63 ERA in six playoff starts and was 2-2 with a 2.12 ERA in four World Series games.

McNally was pretty great in the postseason, too. He had a 2.49 ERA in 14 playoff games (12 starts) and was 4-2 with a 2.34 ERA in the World Series.

Then there was Cuellar, who had a 2.61 ERA in six World Series starts and was 4-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 12 postseason starts.

Those are some really good names to ignore while handing Palmer the ball.

Here are some others, guys who had brilliant careers and pitched for the Orioles at one point: Hoyt Wilhelm, Robin Roberts, Mike Flanagan, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling.

Hey, how about Don Larsen, who turned in the greatest performance in World Series history nearly two years after the Orioles traded him (in a megadeal) to the New York Yankees. He’s known for his 1956 perfect game (Game 5) versus the Brooklyn Dodgers, but, still, his ERA in five World Series was a cumulative 2.75 ERA in 10 games (six starts).

Larsen, who was an original Oriole in 1954, surely wouldn’t be a bad guy to pencil-in for your one-game assignment to preserve franchise history.

I’m assuming most of you will say Palmer, though – and that’s my call, too.

But maybe, just maybe, you’ll surprise me.

It should least be a fun conversation, anyway.

(Just don’t say Ubaldo Jimenez – leave that for the dimwit jokers on Facebook. Those geniuses are true cutups.)

Tap-In Question: If you could pick one former Oriole to pitch the World Series finale for you, who would it be? Is Jim Palmer the absolute slam dunk?

78 Comments

78 Comments

  1. weams

    October 24, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Joe Saunders. Or Jake Arrieta.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Like the Saunders reference. Some have to consider Arrieta.

  2. DutchDinger

    October 24, 2017 at 8:21 am

    #22

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 24, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Even though I know it’ll never get me a drink chip, it has to be Cakes.

    Dan .. how can you include the likes of Curt Schilling in this hallowed list? Really? Who in their right mind would consider him an Oriole? You’ve left a bad taste in my mouth this morning. I really, really need that drink chip!

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Boog: The man was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason starts basically in the Steroid Era. 4-1 2.06 ERA in 7 WS starts. I’d do a disservice to you fine people if I didn’t include him, short O’s career and all.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 24, 2017 at 1:20 pm

        By that reasoning, we’d have to include Jose Bautista as an Oriole. And that’s JUST as wrong.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      But he would qualify. Technically.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 24, 2017 at 5:49 pm

        I guess you have to include who you have to include. Like we’ve said before … it’s your site!

  4. Mustang21

    October 24, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Minus the spring training comeback Palmer tried, I didn’t get to see him pitch. Great answer, but for me I would pitch Mike Mussina. I miss having an ace like Mike was before he went to NY. He always seemed to come up Big when we needed it.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      I remember when people questioned his big-game toughness. Foolishness. Pitched in 23 playoff games and had a 3.42 cumulative ERA, which was also inflated some in the end of his career.

  5. Creatively_19

    October 24, 2017 at 8:45 am

    If you’re looking at all time Orioles, then it has to be Palmer, no question. That Mike Mussina guy was pretty good too, but I think I’d probably start him in game 2.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      I might sneak a lefty in between — one of the Big Game Macs.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 24, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        Make it Cuellar … no disrespect to Flanny.

  6. Jaconnol

    October 24, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Dan, you know there has to be some consideration shown to “Bullett” Bob Turkey. I’ll let you pull the stats, but he certainly had his fair share of playoff games in his career (both wins & saves).
    ;0)

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Good one. Drink chip. Turley was very respectable in the postseason — all WS at the time. All for the Yankees. (Traded away in same deal as Larsen). 15 games, eight starts, six finished, 4-3, 3.19 ERA. Won 1958 WS MVP honors.

  7. bigdaddydk

    October 24, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Jeremy Guthrie, Sidney Ponson, Ben McDonald. Listen, if we’re in game 7 of the WS, at this point, I’m thrilled to be there. But of the all-time greats, I’d go with Jim Palmer, but the 1975 version. Otherwise, I want 1968 Dave McNally. They were both dominant pitchers with WHIP around or below 1.00, ERAs around or below 2.00, and pitched deep into games. I’m going season-specific because a pitcher isn’t the same from season to season. As a third option, 1992 Mike Mussina, for mostly the same reasons, but I have a soft spot for the old 4-man rotation guys who tossed 7+ every outing.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Interesting that all three of those incarnations were not in the playoffs in those years. Drink chip.

      • bigdaddydk

        October 24, 2017 at 12:23 pm

        They weren’t but they were as good as they ever were those seasons. Not their fault.

  8. Bancells Moustache

    October 24, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Jake Arrieta. Palmer had a majestic career but I just feel he could not generate the velocity to make it through Turner, Bellinger and Puig and end up unnecessarily taxing an already exhausted bullpen. I don’t care how good he looks in his underpants, come on guys, we’ve had enough problems with starters not going the distance and you want to put a 72 year old on the mound?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      October 24, 2017 at 11:18 am

      You’re questioning whether a guy with 211 Complete Games Pitched can go the distance?

      You’re bordering on blasphemy my friend!

      Turner, Bellinger & Puig would have all whiffed on Palmer’s high heat just like they all did. (that’s if the rule book’s strike zone were enforced)

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Palmer had location with velocity on his prime. And according to his teammates he had the ability to ratchet it up when needed. Deadly combo.

      • Bancells Moustache

        October 24, 2017 at 1:05 pm

        Obviously you guys missed that punchline.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          October 24, 2017 at 1:24 pm

          Nah .. I got it.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      I missed it. Had a lot to read and did it too quickly. Drink chip.

    • Ben1

      October 24, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      um…. look up Palmers # of complete games pitched

  9. Marshall

    October 24, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Just to be different, I’m going to go with Dave McNally, 1968 version.

    He put up the best WHIP in a season of any starter in Orioles history at 0.842
    He had the best H/9 in a season of any starter in Orioles history at 5.7

    22 Wins, 1.95 ERA, 6.7 Ks/9, 273 Innings, ERA+ of 150

    By the numbers only, that’s what you’d want on the hill.

    #2 on my list is 1975 Jim Palmer
    #3 would be 1992 Mussina

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      See above. Crazy that their best seasons didn’t land team into the playoffs.

  10. Marshall

    October 24, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Addendum:

    If we’re only talking game 7…

    Forgo the starter and put in our greatest bullpen arms. Play the hottest hands as it goes.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      I’d rather have one starter shove.

  11. lmterps

    October 24, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Palmer no doubt, McNally, Cuellar and Mussina would be excellent choices also but happened to think of Mike Boddicker also.

    • bigdaddydk

      October 24, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Boddicker from 1984 would be a great choice. He had great stuff that year that he never really recaptured in Baltimore. Had some good seasons later in Boston, but none like that 20-win campaign.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      That was an amazing year for him. Last 20-game winner for franchise.

  12. madrow

    October 24, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Hoyt Wilhelm

    • bigdaddydk

      October 24, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Going old school. Nice. I guess the real question is whether you’d pick him to start or pitch in relief.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Yup. Either. You know he never made more than 10 starts in a season until 1959 when he was 36 and made 27. That year he led AL in ERA (2.19) in 226 innings.

  13. Raymo

    October 24, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I’m going with the 1970 Dave McNally, the only pitcher to hit a grand slam in a World series game. He’ll beat you with his arm AND with his bat (borrowed from Curt Morton).

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      I like the all-around creativity. Drink chip.

    • Raymo

      October 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks for the chip. I never thought I’d earn one in this fine establishment full of very knowledgeable baseball folks.

      Also my apologies to Curt Motton, whose name got mangled by auto correct.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Yep. I let that one go. I know when typos/autocorrect strike.

    • bigdaddydk

      October 25, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Kind of like Chris Davis, except the bat part.

  14. bv22

    October 24, 2017 at 10:31 am

    I never saw Palmer pitch, and if I did, I was too young to have any memory of the late 70s and/or early 80s…..I definitely never saw Cuellar or Dobson or the other great O’s pitchers of the ’60s and ’70s pitch either so for me, the person I would start is the October 1997 version of Mike Mussina. The games he pitched in the ALCS that year were some of the best post season pitching performances I ever saw and the team didn’t win either one! Not only were those games heartbreaking for Baltimore, but it must’ve been earth shattering for him to be completely dominant and have the team lose both times since they couldn’t score any runs.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Yep. He was great then.

  15. Dokeefe

    October 24, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I would use Mike Mussina. The one time Jim Palmer had a chance to pitch a do-or-die game he pitched horribly against the Milwaukee Brewers. Mike always pitch well in the postseason.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Ouch. Robin Yount was pretty damn good, too. Remember Palmer was almost 37 in that 1982 game. And I’m not sure a 20 year old beating Sandy Koufax in LA can be overlooked. Palmer had some huge moments.

      • Dokeefe

        October 24, 2017 at 1:57 pm

        Don Sutton was on the 66 Dodgers, so he was old also and pitched a great game. That loss did spur the 83 Orioles to win it all, so we do have that.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      And Palmer allowed 3 solo homers and an unearned run set up by his own errant pickoff in 5+ innings. Wasn’t like he walked the ballpark. Sutton was better that day. He’s in the Hall for a reason too.

  16. JParsley

    October 24, 2017 at 11:53 am

    although I was never really a fan of the guy David Wells had something about himself that I think he would be a good choice.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      He was never afraid to take the ball. That means something in high-pressure games.

  17. ZantiGM

    October 24, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    1-Palmer
    2-McNally
    3-Mussina
    4-Cuellar
    5-Bunker(healthy
    6-Boddicker
    7-Dobson
    8-McGregor

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      McGregor much higher on my list. Shutouts in winner-take-all games vs California in 79 and Philly in 83.

  18. mugsneil

    October 24, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Palmer
    Cuellar
    McNally
    Mussins

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      Pretty solid starting four.

  19. ZantiGM

    October 24, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Palmer my all-time favorite O’s pitcher

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      Sure. 268 wins will do that.

  20. willmiranda

    October 24, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    One of my baseball thrills was watching Palmer in the 70’s On a weekday afternoon I got a walk-up ticket at Memorial Stadium for Box AA, first row behind home plate to watch Palmer dissect Texas. A couple guys got on in the first inning when he was throwing nothing fastballs, and then he went to work. Magnificent! But for this day and age, I’ll go contrarian and take Wilhelm. All these hyperactive wild swingers would look like drunks trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues. And there never was a cooler customer.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      Wish I could have seen Wilhelm pitch. And the pizza sized mitt used to try and catch him.

  21. GSISDANNO

    October 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Of course, no Orioles pitcher can match the success of Jim Palmer. But, an honorable mention should go to Mike Boddicker. In 1983, he was a dominant post-season pitcher. The MVP of the ALCS, he pitched a pair of complete games, one in the ALCS and one in the World Series. In the ALCS, he threw a shutout in Game 2 against the White Sox in a game the Orioles had to win. (It was best of 5 back then and the O’s were down 1-0 in the series going to Chicago for game three. His effort sparked a three-game winning streak that led them to the ALCS title.
    In the World Series, it was deja vu. The Orioles lost the first game to the Phillies but Boddicker came up with a complete game win in Game 2. That started a four-game winning streak that led the Orioles to the world championship.
    In his two post-season starts for Baltimore, Boddicker pitched 18 innings and had a 0.00 ERA. He walked three and struck out 20.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Certainly. He and McGregor carried the pitching in that one.

  22. 54orioles

    October 24, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Palmer would be by pick only if he was pitching at his level 50years ago.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 25, 2017 at 11:28 am

      I don’t mean right now. Tho he could probably still throw strikes.

  23. garyintheloo

    October 24, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Ordinarily Palmer but since he got routed by Milwaukee in the last game of the 1982 regular season I’ll go with Scot McGregor who promised his teammates he would do the deed in the 1979 ALCS versus the Angels. Boddicker would be second, then Palmer.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 25, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Funny story on that. Apparently McGregor meant it as a pick-me-up to Al Bumbry who had a key error in series versus Angels. Dauer heard it. Started yelling that Mac was guaranteeing a victory. And then McGregor couldn’t back down. But his intention was never a guarantee. Hilarious. And one of the things I leaned when writing my book.

  24. OsFanStuckInNY

    October 24, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Palmer. (Presuming healthy.)

  25. Ben1

    October 24, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Palmer with Mussina a very close 2nd

  26. Mau

    October 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    McGregor. Lefty. Clutch. After him, I guess Palmer.

    Reliever? The guy we have now but last years version and then Stanhouse.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 25, 2017 at 11:32 am

      I dunno. Stanhouse still makes me nervous.

      • Mau

        October 25, 2017 at 1:45 pm

        That was part of his charm. OK, we’ll go with Tippy.

  27. TxBirdFan

    October 24, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    I’d start Cakes, but have Moe Drabowski ready in the pen. Especially if they were playing the Dodgers.

    • Dan Connolly

      October 25, 2017 at 11:32 am

      More definitely earned this one.

  28. PA Bird Lover

    October 25, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Palmer hands down.

  29. mqm

    October 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    I want to say Steve Stone circa 1980; but have to go with Moose.

  30. terp80

    October 27, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Probably Curt Schilling, but if we can only consider their time as an O, then I’ll go with
    Stone…

  31. teresashank832

    October 29, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Absolutely Jim Palmer!

  32. John in Cincy

    October 29, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Yes, Jim Palmer is an absolute slam dunk for Game 7 starter. There are other pitchers worthy of consideration. Schilling, of course, is a good choice, as is Arrieta, though I decided to focus strictly on what was done during Oriole careers.

    While Cakes never started a Game 7, he was uniformly superb in the postseason (4-2 in nine World Series appearances–eight starts–3.20 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 8-3, 2.61 ERA, 1.21 WHIP overall playoff record). He’s also the only pitcher in the history of baseball to win WS games in three decades.

    Something I like to point to as well are his bookend appearances in the World Series, both critical games in which he bested future Hall of Famers.

    In 1966 as a rookie he put himself on the map as one of the best young arms in baseball, winning Game 2 on a 6-0 complete game against the Dodgers. The significance here is that it was being played in L.A. before heading to Memorial Stadium for the third game. The Orioles had already won the first game, so it was important for the Dodgers that they prevail in Game 2, and they must have liked their chances with Koufax on the mound in what would be the final start of his illustrious career. So while not a Game 7, this was a big game on the road against one of the greatest lefties of all time. A high pressure game, and Palmer didn’t back down.

    His final WS appearance came in 1983 against the Phillies. After splitting the first two games in Baltimore, Game 3 was pivotal in a Series decided in five. The circumstances were also different in that Philadelphia could close out the WS without leaving home again, as the middle three games would be at their park, and that instead of starting, Palmer relieved Mike Flanagan in the fifth. Again, Cakes would best a team’s ace, as Steve Carlton was starter and loser on the short end of a 3-2 decision.

    Here’s a link to video of Game 3 (minus the commercials). Why it’s worth a look is because one of the announcers is Earl Weaver, who, as one might imagine, has some great insights. He notes that the game is unique in featuring three Cy Young Award winners, and when Palmer’s warming up in the bullpen, he said that as a starter, he could throw as many as 140 pitches prior to the game. One of those in the booth quipped that he much enjoy talking about Palmer without Jim talking back to him.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca40KFkdOsM

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